Hello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday (Morning) News Post!
Well, well, well, not too many comments last week. Hmm, I managed to write an entire blog about what it’s like to live with debt, as if nobody has ever experienced that before! Brilliant. Naturally, my rant about being broke was met with general silence except for one comment to the effect of “Deal with it.”
Oh right! Silly me, I forgot: Nobody ever wants to hear a complainer,… unless of course it’s something that both people want to complain about, but in general, nobody’s interested. They’ve got there own problems. Even if it’s a legitimate gripe, even if you’re old and sick, but especially if it’s regarding a jazz clarinetist who chose his own path. After all, let’s be honest, when I’m not stressed out about money, my job is a hell of a lot more fun and rewarding than most peoples.
So will I complain about my charmed existence as an artist while millions “work” in a lifeless cubicle for most of their waking hours?
Yes, from time to time I will, because every job has its ups and downs and “The higher the peaks, the deeper the valleys.” Sure, being a bank cashier probably isn’t that exciting but do you think they ever had to fill out a “deposit request” form in front of a live audience and then, disgusted with their performance, desperately wanted to throw their pen through the nearest window, get in a car, and just start driving away aimlessly simply to distance themselves from their personal disgrace? Yeah, I doubt it!
Anyways, enough of that.
Moving on to some good news that I overlooked last week, yours truly has received his first commission to compose a piece, and for CBC Radio-Canada no less! I’d like to thank Michael Juk from CBC Radio for thinking of me to write a piece for the January 15th event at the Patricia Hotel in Vancouver. The event is commemorating jazz piano legend Jelly Roll Morton (pictured above) and his time spent playing in Vancouver from 1919-1920.
The piece will be written for the classic clarinet/piano/drums format and will (hopefully) capture a sense of Jelly Roll Morton the man, and the very young city of Vancouver that he was witness to. And of course, above all, it’s got to be swingin’!
Now, I must admit that my knowledge of Jelly Roll Mortons music and history is limited so while I’ve been sketching some musical ideas, I’ve also been reading “Dead Man’s Blues” which is about Mortons life, as well as listening to the famous Alan Lomax interview which spans the length of 8 CDs, and let me tell you, that’s entertaining.
First of all, the interview was conducted (I believe for the Smithsonian Institute?) near the end of Jelly Rolls life and basicly they gave him a piano, a bottle of whiskey, and then just let the tapes run as he played songs and told stories. The stories are fun to listen to and for me, really brought that period of jazz to life more so than most jazz history texts would do.
Now, back to that bottle of whiskey. On disc 2 or 3 you can tell he’s enjoying the his drink BUT restraining from using any profanity. Somewhere around disc 5 or 6 however, Jelly Roll is apparently well into that bottle as he launches into the most filthy, sexually explicit blues lyrics I’VE EVER HEARD,… EVER, IN ANY GENRE! Up until that point I was wondering “Why the parental advisory label?” but after disc 5, I got it. Unbelievable.
Once I stopped laughing about it however, I actually felt kinda bad for the guy. I mean, you give anyone a good bottle of whiskey and then proceed to record them for the next 5 hours? Come on! It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to say some things you might otherwise not want preserved for generations to come. My bet is, Jelly Roll probably woke up the next morning with a terrible hangover, amplified by the bitter head throbbing of regret. And who hasn’t been there? Right?
Okay, it’s a beautiful sunny day in Montreal today, so I’m going to enjoy it by,…hmm,… staying inside and writing clever, vaguely contemporary (while strongly rooted in 1920s tradition), hot jazz. Hey,… somebody’s got to!
Have a great week everyone and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!